Link style vote

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This vote is now closed. The underlined link style / browser default will remain the default on all Wikipedias.

What should be the default link style on Wikipedia? The current default is that links are underlined, this can be disabled in the user preferences of logged in users. Opponents of this default argue that on link-heavy pages such as Wikipedia, it may be preferable to have links non-underlined (but colored) by default.

About 10% of all registered users on the English Wikipedia have changed their preferences from the default. Underlining is by far the most-changed user preference.


Which style do you prefer?[edit]

Voting deadline is 2003 October 25, 20:00 UTC. You can only vote for one option.

  • Why? Says Who? Deadlines are unfair.


  1. —Eloquence,
  2. Scarequotes,
  3. Wfeidt,
  4. Lightning from en,
  5. Kimiko,
  6. Erik Zachte,
  7. Eclecticology,
  8. Stevertigo,
  9. Neolux (from a purely aesthetic point of view, much cleaner),
  10. Arvindn,
  11. Sansculotte,
  12. KRS,
  13. BL (better looking, few people change default),
  14. Taku,
  15. Martin (though I'd prefer the underline-on-hover compromise detailed at the bottom of the page),
  16. Kalki
  17. Angela (I've just tried it for 4 days and it is better. I would also like the hover compromise)
  18. user:sk
  19. user:zanimum
  20. Unyounyo

Underlined / browser default[edit]

  1. Brion VIBBER,
  2. Looxix,
  3. Jake,
  4. Schneelocke,
  5. BCorr Брайен ,
  6. Maveric149 (although my own settings are to not underline),
  7. Patrick,
  8. denny vrandecic,
  9. Jrincayc,
  10. Giskart Walter,
  11. Cyp,
  12. Shizhao,
  13. JamesDay,
  14. mfagan (accessibility, consecutive links),
  15. Ed Cormany (defaults=familiarity),
  16. Dori (comment below),
  17. Gombe (browser default),
  18. Minesweeper,
  19. sannse,
  20. Dysprosia,
  21. seav,
  22. Jdforrester,
  23. Nanobug,
  24. bdesham (browser default),
  25. Logotu,
  26. Arwel,
  27. Khym Chanur (I hate non-underline links),
  28. LittleDan (but the theme should be changed),
  29. RobLa,
  30. Gboy (I prefer this one, and used to it),
  31. Aldie,
  32. Lorax (stick with browser default),
  33. At18,
  34. User:MadEwokHerd(default is good),
  35. Robert Lee (my vote was removed before!),
  36. I am Jack's username (WCAG 1.0 trumps pretty, my personal pref is no u, would like hover u.),
  37. Fantasy (the many links show that Wikipedia is different from "the rest" ;-)
  38. Lir
  39. Mattworld (though I would like the hover compromise)
  40. PhilBoswell
  41. ChrisG
  42. (Duh, it should be browser default as always. The author should only suggest a style, it must be left up to the user to define how they read and interact.)
  43. Rthudy



  • On link-heavy pages, the underlining is very distracting. It is one of the reasons that many reviews call Wikipedia "1995-era" design -- underlining is generally frowned upon by designers because it stands out so much from regular text. Using non-underlined text will make our site look fresher and more inviting without being less intuitive. Those who want underlined links can still configure them in their browser settings, but the default for anonymous user should be the more pleasing, non-underlined look.
Side issue: Actually, this is more due to the black on white text and the light pink and yellow colors. They look like old-Yahoo or otherwise lamer design. I suggest adding a white text on black category for people to try out. If this is really a design issue, then there needs to be a serious page design contest. ^^Stevertigo
Speaking for Wiktionary, where a multi-script environment is developing, an underline could make reading CJK characters and beneath-the-letter diacritics more difficult. On en:Wikipedia alone it makes little difference to me. Eclecticology 22:50, 15 Oct 2003 (UTC)


  • Underlining is the default in most web browsers. Users who don't like it can alter their browser settings.
Counter-arguments: Most websites are not as link-heavy as Wikipedia. Most users are not familiar with their browser settings.
* Why do all my browsers display underlined links, although browser settings are not to underline? 00:36, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)jjj
I had set my browser settings to not underline, and Wikipedia was one of the few sites on which that setting did not work, and I never noticed the underlining box checked in the preferences until I noticed this vote on the issue.
Not underlining is the default in most link-heavy sites. Users who don't like it can alter their preferences.
  • Using color only to mark links harms accessibility.
Colorblind people are generally red/green blind. Black/blue (link default color in most browsers) is usually not a problem.—Eloquence 20:48, 15 Oct 2003 (UTC)
There are also black-and-white displays (for that matter, a very small number of people with no color vision at all) and simply colored text -- whoops, that's not a link, just emphasis! Or is it? Gotta run my mouse over everything now... --Brion VIBBER 21:09, 15 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Can you cite an example for a Wikipedia article page with colored text? That should really not happen. (The same argument can be made for underlined text, anyway.)—Eloquence 21:45, 15 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Red text is used for emphasis at times (particularly in time-sensitive announcements), which conflicts with the red-text edit links. It's a minor thing, perhaps, but underline is ingrained as a web standard that says "link" for anyone who's used the web in the last decade or so, and underlined non-link text is even rarer. --Brion VIBBER 06:17, 18 Oct 2003 (UTC)
From the 1999-05-05 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 W3C recommendation: "Guideline 2. Don't rely on color alone."
Can't people who need accessibility just set their preferences to have underlines? Also, the hover-underline solves this.
  • Without underlining you do not know whether two consecutive words link to two different places or whether they are part of the same link. Not without hovering over them anyway.
But in some languages like Japanese, words are not separated by a space, so it is impossible to tell without hovering over them in any case (underlined or not). Tomos 02:10, 16 Oct 2003 (UTC)
"About 10% of all registered users on the English Wikipedia have changed their..." means: 90% prefer to have underlines... ;) -- 22:23, 15 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Actually, most people don't touch their preferences, ever.—Eloquence 22:35, 15 Oct 2003 (UTC)
The hover-line compromise helps solve this (faster than hover text)
  • Underlining is not just a style issue. It is a content issue. It creates a web of ideas between articles. Underlining makes it clear what article you can link to.

What about a compromise?[edit]

We could underline links only when the mouse is hovering over the link.


  • you easily do know whether two consecutive words link to two different places or whether they are part of the same link.
  • it will make our site look fresher and more inviting without being less intuitive


  • You're moving your mouse peacefully around, and happen to accidentally pass over a link. With the speed of lightning, a line jumps out at you, scaring you so you fall out of your chair.
  • The links pretend not to be links, until you force them to, giving the impression that the site won't help you unless you force it to.
  • Some pages (especially those with lots of links) may slow down older browsers and/or older computers.